T-Mobile to Pay $17.5 Million to Settle 911 Outage Probe

T Mobile
Ted S. Warren/APT-Mobile CEO John Legere speaks at an event in Seattle, June 2014.
By Alina Selyukh

WASHINGTON -- T-Mobile US (TMUS) will pay $17.5 million to settle a U.S. investigation of two 911 service outages last year, marking the largest such fine levied by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC said Friday it found that better safeguards in T-Mobile's 911 network architecture would have prevented the outages, which together lasted for about three hours on Aug. 8 and affected almost all of the wireless carrier's 50 million customers nationwide.

The regulator also said it found T-Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, didn't notify affected 911 call centers in a timely manner, as required by FCC rules.

"We have made significant changes and improvements across a number of our systems since last year, and we will continue working to improve these critical systems with our partners to provide the standard of service our customers rightly expect from T-Mobile," the company's spokeswoman said in a statement.

T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. mobile carrier, also agreed to set up a compliance program to better prevent and detect potential outages, notify affected call centers and resume service as quickly as possible, the FCC said.

Previously, the FCC reached a $16 million settlement with CenturyLink (CTL) and a $3.4 million settlement with Verizon Communications (VZ) related to a multi-state six-hour 911 outage in April 2014.

"The commission has no higher priority than ensuring the reliability and resilience of our nation's communications networks so that consumers can reach public safety in their time of need," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.
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